Cunning scheduling by new club president Jeff Soo kept regulars Paul Scott and Frank Thompson out of the twentieth annual Stoneridge Croquet Club championship. With perennial spoiler Thompson out of the field other players stepped forward to claim that role. Six-time Stoneridge champion Andy Short was the principal victim, falling in shocking upsets to Ralph Heinz in the first round of the main knockout, and then to Conrad Haas in the consolation final. Short was certainly off form, having played little this year, but all credit to Heinz and Haas for making the most of their opportunities.
With scarcely any rain since early summer the court was fast, the hoop approaches treacherous, and the hoops ready to reject even seemingly trivial shots. Despite 90-minute time limits there were no 26-point games till the final. The play-in round featured Heinz’s gritty overtime comeback, 11-10, against Short, a hard-fought 15-14 win by Bob Roth over Conrad Haas, and very creditable upset bid by Marie Haas against Tommy Harrington, the latter winning 22-13.
In the semi-finals Bob Roth took control early against Jeff Soo after Soo’s attack and break attempt left him five-ball dead. Roth had problems of his own with the tough conditions, and Soo eventually clawed back for a 16-13 win. Heinz fell back to earth in the other semi-final, against Harrington, Harrington winning 23-3. In the “Y” (consolation) knockout, the inevitable husband v. wife game went 19-17 to Conrad, while Roth wondered what he had done to draw Short in a consolation game, Short showing that experience counts, winning 20-10.
A few “just for fun” games were mixed into the schedule, although with the unexpectedly hot weather most players opted to relax and chat in the shade instead.
In the Y final Haas made some championship-quality plays, attacking early and generally taking an aggressive line throughout. It is no easy thing to keep your head and win against a much higher-ranked opponent, even when that opponent is playing poorly, but Haas kept playing his own game, survived all of Short’s counterattacks, and prevailed for a memorable win.
The championship final started with some chary positioning play, neither Soo nor Harrington eager to attempt anything difficult. The hoops were a little more forgiving after two days of play, but the court continued to dry out and harden, making boundary attacks perilous and aggressive pickups foolhardy. An inadvertent rush out tricked Harrington into unnecessary opponent deadness, which became a serious problem when he later failed to clear 2. Soo went round to the peg with a strong leave, and Harrington shot and missed. But Soo flubbed a short take-off to pick up the extra ball, faulting by touching the croqueted ball with his mallet. Harrington let Soo off the hook by attempting to roquet the boundary ball directly, without roqueting the ball he was already in contact with; his shot curled off line and missed. Both players attempted and failed break pickups, Soo eventually finishing 26-3. Soo moves past Short for most Stoneridge championships, with seven.
Stoneridge Club Championship
- Jeff Soo
- Tommy Harrington
- Bob Roth
Y (consolation) knockout
- Conrad Haas
- Andy Short
- Marie Haas
Last modified on 23 March 2011